President Obama puts focus on children during Standing Rock visi - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

President Obama puts focus on children during Standing Rock visit

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There was a lot of talk before Friday about what the President wanted to cover during his visit to Standing Rock Reservation -- the economy, jobs, better relations between governments. He did address all those things. But he said it all starts, with the children.

A Pow Wow became a symbol for President Obama's visit to Standing Rock.

"I realize a Pow Wow isn't just about celebrating the past, it's also about looking to the future, it's about keeping sacred traditions alive for the next generation," President Obama said.

That next generation was his focus. The President paid special attention to children during his visit, even meeting with a group of young people earlier in the day.

"I understand that the Lakota word for children Wakanjeja comes form the word Waka...sacred. That's what young people are. They're sacred."

He encouraged everyone to follow the lead of Standing Rock's most famous resident, Chief Sitting Bull. By putting their minds together, they could do more for their children.

"Because young people should be able to live and work and raise a family right here in the land of your fathers and mothers."

Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault said the Chief would have been proud.

"If Sitting Bull were here today, he would be honored, as I am, to have the President here talking to us," Archambault said.

The President admitted the past has been hard, but by working together, they can make things better.

"We've got a long way to go but if we do our part I believe we can turn the corner, we can break old cycles, we can give our children a better future."

Since taking office, President Obama says his administration has made major investments to help grow tribal economies, including job training and tribal colleges.

North Dakota Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp said Friday she's working on a bill endorsed by North Dakota tribes to create a national commission on Native American children to study the effects of several issues, including poverty, unemployment, child abuse, and substance abuse.

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